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Greetings, Salt Lake Central Office! I hope everyone’s summer is going well, but enough with the heat already. I’m always ready for some warmth, but this is a little over the top. Oh well, the snow will be here soon enough.

The big news around here is the ratification of the new Bylaws, after 6 months of ad hoc-ing and 3 months of deliberation, the body approved the proposed version, which can be found on the home page at www.saltlakeaa.org. This document has been through a few changes since its creation and continues to be a living document that will continually be modified in order to be more effective at doing what we do best, helping drunks get sober. If you or your group has a suggested change, we meet the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30 pm where you can present your suggestion. I have a tendency to use my conventional thinking and want to impose rules from the real world on what we do here at the CO. Fortunately, the beauty of our program shines through in the principles, and I’m reminded that we are not a business, a school, a government or authority, we are a “spiritual entity having but one primary purpose—that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”

I cannot stress strongly enough that this is YOUR Central Office. Those holding positions are but trusted servants, they do not govern. Which brings me to my next topic, elections! It’s never too early to begin thinking about your next service position in AA, maybe it will be at the Central Office. The Chair, Co-Chair and one Trustee will be elected in November, and all 13 Committee Chairs will be rotating in December. That should generate some heat. And hopefully some filled positions. There’s plenty of work to do in our efforts to reach those who need us, what can you do to help?

In loving service, Wendy

July 21, 2014

 

 

An alcoholic reading through the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous for the first time might be tempted to skip over Chapter 8 since it is titled “To Wives” but on further examination, will find that it was actually written by Bill W.  Skipping this chapter for any reason would be a serious oversight and one that might hinder, rather than help, the soon-to-be-recovering alcoholic.

Why would that be the case?  One constant among alcoholics is the tendency to believe that their problem, even after they admit there is one, is theirs and not anyone else’s.  Unfortunately this is not completely true.  As Chapter 8 points out, “…for every man who drinks others are involved—the wife who trembles in fear of the next  debauch, the mother and father who see their son wasting away.” (p. 104) This does not even include the children, friends, coworkers, neighbors, community members, doctors, police officers and others who are also suffering in some way from the effects of someone else’s drinking.  Chapter 8 can be helpful in revealing the impact someone else’s drinking can have and every alcoholic needs to be aware, in the process of recovery, that they are not the only ones affected.

What, then, should these other people do?  “To Wives” suggests many changes in the non-drinking person affected, but most of them boil down to not trying to solve another person’s drinking problems for them, since this will never work and may cause resentment from the alcoholic who sees other people “interfering” in his or her problem.

The ultimate solution is a spiritual awakening for these other people, use of the 12 Steps for themselves, and realization that they are dealing with someone who is seriously ill with a condition which may very well kill them if not controlled.  Chapter 8 suggests, in fact, that the non-drinking spouse or other remember “He (the alcoholic) is just another sick, unreasonable person.  Treat him, when you can, as though he had pneumonia.”  (p. 108)

That this is a difficult thing to do is obvious from the content of Chapter 8.  These women have suffered along with their drinking spouse, have become angry, resentful, frightened, and desperate, just as the alcoholic has!  They may have made multiple attempts to control the disease for the drinker, may have enlisted others in the fight, even divorced or separated from the alcoholic, only to find that even extreme measures have not cured the problem.

Reason:  it is NOT their problem.  Only the alcoholic, with the aid of a Higher Power and the strength of Alcoholics Anonymous, can find the solution.  The affected others can only see to their own spiritual health, follow the precepts of the 12 Steps themselves, “Let go and let God” take care of the problem drinker and, perhaps, as is suggested on page 121, find an Al-Anon group of their own to support them through the struggle.

 

—Sandra D.

 

 

“This ladies AA group began in 1974 with a group of women alcoholics who wanted to meet regularly and listen to recordings made by alcoholics who shared their experience, strength and hope with other alcoholics.  The ladies found it useful to have a discussion following the recordings…and to identify the Speak Easy Ladies Group as a closed group…limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking.”

Thus begins each meeting of the S.E.L.G., held each Thursday from 12:00 noon til 1:30 p.m., at All Saints Episcopal Church on the corner of 17th South and Foothill Blvd.  The meeting is known for the amount of sobriety in the room, as well as for its warm welcome to newcomers and returnees alike.  Now in this 40th anniversary year we would like to pay tribute to some of the women who set the tone and inspired so many of us to carry on the tradition they established.

PAT, an outsize Texas personality, gave us the tradition of telling our sobriety dates when we speak.  She used to say that in Texas if you don’t give your sobriety date, it’s probably because you don’t have one.  PAT’s date is 6/19/64.  She tells of going to her first meeting and thought AA was the cat’s meow, so she went all over Texas telling people about AA while still drinking, and never got anyone sober.

BEVERLY (8/4/74) was one of the Grand Dames of the SELG, a constant presence with her wisdom and compassion for the newcomer.  Donnie (3/27/88) remembers how she stayed after every meeting to talk with any woman who was in need.  Kim recalls her saying in the meeting “I’d like to hear from the newcomers”, thus giving those too shy to volunteer a chance to share and become a part of the group.  Toni tells of the coaching Beverly gave her when she was in the middle of some high drama:  get into the observatory and step back and just observe, not participate.  To sit with her fear until it passed.  “Here I am, still alive and much more free.  She added so much to my early sobriety.”

KAYE (1/1/75) said:  “I came here to learn to drink like a Lady.”  And then she went out for 10 years and came back to learn how not to drink.  Peggy (6/6/86) said, “I can still see and hear Kaye’s knitting needles.  I miss her every day.”

There were many others also who gave so much to this group (BETTY, CAROLYN, GWEN, DEB, to name just a few). Margaret-Peggy summed it up for us in saying, “it was there in the SELG with those women that I learned how to do the life/living part of sobriety.  I would not have survived those first sober Mother’s Days without the amazing support and love from those early women.  And thoughts of all of you will get me through today.”

 

 

By now on step 8, we are well on our way in a spiritual and healing journey.

I believe that each step should be taken individually, I believe especially step 8 and step 4 should be done, without forward looking to the next step to come. Because if not done that way, it is easy to get into fear in my head, of what I “may think” lies ahead, in the step to follow. “First Things First”

I feel this step is about taking the most honest look at ourselves than we’ve ever taken in our whole lives, over the years and decades of self deception, denial, self centeredness, pride and over inflated ego.

It is important to look at and “list” the people “I” have harmed, however little or small, I may think the harm was, even if I think I may never see that person again. This is an examination of ones self, and no one else. Some examples of the people that were on my list are family, mine, yours, theirs, friends, neighbors, co-workers, pets, ect… the list goes on.

I’ve said to myself and to others over the years that, the step 8 list is mostly finished, from what I had listed on my 4th step list. I’ve said this mainly because, that is what I had been told by my sponsor when doing my steps for the first time. But over the years and with more thorough examination of what the step say’s, and means, I believe step 4 is about me, and my morals, and step 8 is about other’s and who my lack of morals and bad actions have affected, and more importantly hurt. It was easy to say when I was drinking that I was hurting no one other than myself. I told myself, after all I was paying the bills, and I was the one who had to deal with the hangovers, tardiness, missed appointments and engagements, crazy behavior and the embarrassment and humiliation of the next morning, and day or two until I could mask the memory with another bender. I was the one who felt like crap about my self more than anyone else could. It was all about me, me, me….. I do have to say, I feel this is a place where step 4 and step 8 do have their common denominators, because by step 8, the pattern of self manifested in so many different ways, has started to be revealed to myself. This is a eye opening and humbling step (as they all are) if done with all the honesty one is capable of at the time, it will change the way you view the world and the people in it, and add so much more mortar to the foundation we are building, for freedom from self, and oddly enough, help build self respect, and self esteem.

I am starting to get busy at work right now, and thinking to much in my brain rather than my heart.

So in closing I would like to thank the person who asked me to write my thoughts on step 8 and am honored to be of service. I can’t help but to take this opportunity to pass on a couple of things that were said to me early on in my sobriety.

Our goal is to wear sobriety like a loose garment.

Don’t take life so darn seriously, it is short. So lighten the **** up !

by Rod G.

 

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Last week the topic at a meeting I was attending was “principals before personalities”. This led to sharing on being judgmental, our most common defect of character. It’s been said that after Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, things became exactly that for us: Bad or good, I like it, I don’t like it… and then we suffered. The Dali Lama once said: “The absence of judgment is love. “This is true for us; this is a program of brotherly love. We practice this in the steps, especially when we listen to another’s 5th step. We can listen without judging. This is where we convey to them that, like us, they are not their past. We point out how their greatest limitations become an opening to a relationship with a Higher Power.

I had a related experience this week. During a meditation meeting, we were instructed to picture someone we had trouble with, generate love, then give it to them. Hard to do, so we started with the love we had for a pet – or something along these lines. I had been walking around with a broken heart, which I thought I had come to terms with for two years. Because of the actions this person had done, whenever I thought of them, the story of what they did and the judgment about what they had done was inseparable. During the meditation (which is really just a visualization of the prayer found on page 67 or in the story “Freedom from Bondage” (both found in the Big Book) the story fell away along with the judgment surrounding it. I had a new feeling of love for this person. Freedom! Along with this freedom, came the ability to maintain or not maintain the relationship in a way that would be healthy for both of us.

The absence of the story is the absence of judgment. The absence of judgment is love.

By: Quiet Time Mediation Member

 

 

The day before I got sober I learned that every time I tried to help someone I ended up hurting them in some way.  The shock of this led me to look at myself in a light I had previously thought only applied to the destitute and lost souls of the world.  It turned out I might be one of them.

Many months later I raised my hand to sponsor for the first time.  Proudest moment of my life.  It seemed like such a small thing, raising my hand, but it said so much about what had happened to me through recovery.  I was qualified, whatever that means, to help someone rebuild a life.  I had experience I could point to when saying “I know the way out”.

None of the men I’ve sponsored have stayed sober, at least in the go around where we worked together.  One passed away from an overdose.  Most just fade into the background.  I used to blame myself because that’s what I do.  But I didn’t put the bottle in anyone’s hand; I didn’t jam a needle anywhere.

I’ve been a proxy sponsor for some.  I think it means I help them work through some stuff without pulling out the big guns of Sponsor.  I have learned when to listen, how to wait for a question before giving advice, how to guard against crazy.

I know the first few chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous very well, especially “The Doctor’s Opinion”.  This means I have a firm grasp of my disease, of how to distance myself from the shame and guilt.  Every sponsee brings new stories of how things might have been, how they could become, if I forget that there is something inside me too powerful to contend with, that the only way to win is to deny the battle.

Sobriety is freely offered, and it must be freely taken.  I do my best to let people fail on their own terms and to be there when they find the cold too bitter.  I’ve stayed sober almost 5 years.  That has to count for something.

—Jonathan H.

 

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After we take the preceding step of becoming willing to let our Creator take all of our defects of character, step 7 directs us to take the action of asking our Higher Power to remove them. It is in moving from the hopeful place of willingness, to the humble, faithful place of action, that step 7 takes hold.

The seventh step prayer, found on page 76 of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous reads: “My Creator, I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here to do Your bidding. Amen.”

The seventh step prayer, as it was explained to me, is a continuation of the third step prayer, found on page 63 of the big book. The third step prayer opens a channel of communication with our Higher Power wherein we offer ourselves over to our Higher Power, for It to do with us as It will. We ask for release from the “bondage of self,” or from our selfishness, so that we can better be of service to God and world about us. The seventh step prayer acknowledges that there are several layers of self-will (or several types of character defects) that block us from “the sunlight of the Spirit.”

One of my favorite things about this prayer, this tool in my spiritual toolkit, is that it is written in present tense.  As such, any time I experience some crippling character defects creeping in, I can give them over to God and ask for inspiration on how to proceed. So, when that old thinking crops up causing me to feel fearful, self-seeking, self-pitying, angry, lazy or the like, I can call on my Higher Power to remove the defects of character and give me strength to take the next right action (just the opposite of what I feel like doing). Time and again, this action of surrendering my difficulties over to my Higher Power saves the day.

I will close by sharing a hidden gem that can be found on page 68 of the big book, known as the fear prayer: “We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.” The simplicity and effectiveness of this tool has allowed me to walk through situations that would have terrified me, with grace and ease, and it has helped me to reach out to newcomers who are feeling even more frightened and alone. By simply taking the action of surrendering my self-centered fears, I can realize my real purpose, “to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p77)

By Sara L.

 

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